Why freelance copywriters need to care less about the dishes

I’ll put my hands up and happily admit that I’ve been somewhat rubbish at committing myself to a daily blog post. I declared that I would as part of my 19 Things for 2019. I then failed to post entirely, but as I never said when this commitment would start I’m going to let myself off the hook a little.

As I resume blogging, I want to address an issue that doesn’t seem important at first glance: ignoring the dishes. Although I’ve worked as a freelance copywriter for nine years, I’ve only operated on a full-time basis for two of them. Mastering the fine art of working as a full-time freelance copywriter is challenging for a few reasons.

I won’t explore all those reasons today, but one that gets to me the most is my inability to switch off from home life. When you’re working at home, this is often difficult. I always meet deadlines, but I find myself rising from my laptop to wash the dishes, put in another load of laundry, play with the cats…you get the picture.

Right now, I want to address why freelance copywriters should ignore the mundane aspects of home life until their working day ends. There’s a pressing need to treat the rest of your home obligations as non-existent, much like you would if you were working in an office.

Distractions can lead you down a dirty path

Various studies show that even the smallest of distractions will halt your productivity. When you let yourself become distracted by the dishes, you take longer to do the task that you initially elected to do. In my case, this means taking longer to complete work for my clients, which then results in earning less.

Distractions also result in lower quality work. This was measured using a group of students who were sitting an exam. One-half of the students were interrupted with minor and unrelated quizzes at various stages. The other half continued in peace. As you may guess, the ones who were interrupted produced lower scores.

All this should act as sufficient evidence for sitting down, focusing on your copywriting, and ignoring the mundane tasks that are building up around you.

You are a freelance copywriter, not a SAHW or SAHH

For those of you who are uninitiated into the world of parenting forums SAHW = Stay At Home Wife and SAHH = Stay At Home Husband. Both admirable roles, but they’re not the roles you’re filling.

As a freelance copywriter, your primary duty is to write. You’re writing because you want to earn money. You’re also writing because you want to keep your clients. You may be flying solo, but you are running a business.

No other business person who takes themselves or their work seriously breaks off to wash this morning’s coffee cup and cereal bowl. They accept that those things can wait, because they’re of less importance. Do the same and watch your earnings rise.

You may fall into the trap of picking up everyone else’s mess

One of my biggest irritations about working as a freelance copywriter is the lack of respect others appear to have for my time. There’s an assumption that because I’m at home, I’m there to complete all tasks on the home front. This has become less of an issue recently, but everyone from friends through to my partner behaved as though it’s okay for me to just drop everything and do the housework, run an errand, or chase up their appointments.

When I highlighted that I wouldn’t expect them to do the same, even if said tasks were in their locale, they pointed out that it’s easier for me to do it than it is for them. As people who were under the watchful eyes of their bosses, it was more challenging for them to break away. I won’t deny that’s the case, but that being a fact doesn’t justify me breaking away from my work periodically because they see a greater sense of immediacy surrounding a task than I do. My work is more important to me than cashing their cheque or doing their washing.

I’m fully aware that sounds selfish. And like many sensible people, I can see the sense in being a little selfish at times. If someone is absolutely desperate for something to be done, I will help them out. But to be expected to do this on a daily basis is conducive to my productivity or progression.

So, in the name of your sanity, productivity, and self-worth, abandon the dishes until your work is done. It’s important and worth doing properly.

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